SI NOW

December 21, 2015

KRIS BRYANT

The Cubs' 23-year-old third baseman and National League Rookie of the Year discusses his manager, Joe Maddon, and his admiration for his friend, the Nationals' Bryce Harper

MAGGIE GRAY: Tell us about some of your transition from the minors to the majors.

KRIS BRYANT: First of all, the season is superlong. You're playing almost every day for more than 170 days. There were ups and downs. I had a pretty bad month, but I learned from it and got better. That's really important in baseball, learn and make the adjustments.

MG: What's the most unconventional thing that Joe Maddon did this year?

KB: From the very get-go I'd have to say batting the pitcher eighth. People don't really grasp [how unusual that is]. I think some other managers eventually ended up doing the same thing, but it's just so traditional in baseball to bat the pitcher ninth. So that really stood out. Also, bunting in certain situations. In the playoffs we did back-to-back squeeze plays [against the Cardinals] for two or three runs. That was a first, and many mangers won't do that. He's really fun to play for. There have been onesies [being worn] on plane rides, zoos, magicians ... he's a lot of fun.

MG: What's your favorite memory of growing up with Nationals outfielder and NL MVP Bryce Harper?

KB: I just remember all of the home runs he hit, how big he was and how hard he threw. He was always just head and shoulders above everybody else. It's crazy to see how his career has gone since then. I'm [nine months] older than him, and he just won MVP while I'm sitting here as a rookie. It's good to see a friend have success like that.

For more of Bryant's interview, plus the SI Now archive, go to SI.com/sinow

"I'm older than [Bryce Harper], and he won MVP while I'm just a rookie."

—Kris Bryant

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PHOTOJARED WICKERHAM/GETTY IMAGES (BRYANT) PHOTOSEAN RAYFORD/AP (MUSCHAMP) PHOTOJOSE MARIN/MARINMEDIA.ORG/CAL SPORT MEDIA/AP (SARKISIAN) PHOTOALBERTO E. RODRIGUEZ/GETTY IMAGES (HOWARD) PHOTOJEFF HAYNES FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (COOK) PHOTO

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